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The Brady Bunch Movie

The Brady Bunch Movie
reviewed by Greta Christina

This is by far the worst movie I've ever given a Shameless Plug to. (To which I have ever given a Shameless Plug?) It's essentially a trifling bit of pop culture fluff that will be forgotten in about three nanoseconds, and I feel more than a little embarrassed about enjoying it so much. But the bottom line is that it works. It has a recognition of its own absurdity, a self-conscious, self-mocking, pomo sensibility that saves it from being just another greed-driven, formula knockoff of an idiotic TV show. (Well... almost.) It successfully nostalgifies the 70s, the decade I thought no-one could be nostalgic about, in the only way possible; with a sort of sheepish-but-gleeful recognition of its awfulness. The cameos are brilliant (Davy Jones, Mickey Dolenz and Peter Tork -- oooo, they're so dreamy! -- plus several members of the original Brady Bunch cast, and, of all people, Ru Paul). The costumes are inspired, and Mrs. Brady is, I'm sorry to say, the role Shelley Long was born to play.

I confess that I didn't watch The Brady Bunch TV show more than a couple of times when I was a lass, so I can't tell you how accurately it captures the spirit of the original. However, I will say wholeheartedly that Christine Taylor, the girl who plays Marcia Brady, is (a) a dead ringer for the original and (b) a complete and utter magnificently hot babe. I'm even willing to forgive her dreadful polyester outfits, seeing as how they include those kicky little short stiff flared skirts. (Sweet Jesus, save me. I'm getting hot thinking about Marcia Brady's legs.)

But the best part about The Brady Bunch Movie is that it's saturated with a campy, queer sensibility and loaded with bits of queer culture. These include obvious gags, like Ru Paul's portrayal of the high-school counselor, as well as some not-so-obvious queer-community in-jokes, like the Project 10 poster behind the counselor's desk. There's a significant lesbian subplot, in which Marcia's best friend develops a huge crush on her (a development that Marcia is cheerfully oblivious to). And in a first for a cheap, silly Hollywood movie, the predictable, deus-ex-machina happy ending includes two teenage girls getting together and becoming girlfriends. I've seen queer happy endings in queer movies before; but I don't think I've ever seen one before in a profit-driven piece of formula trash cranked out by the Hollywood machinery. It's peculiarly reassuring.


Copyright 1995 Greta Christina. Originally published in San Francisco Bay Times.

     

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